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BMW M3 (2014–)

Last updated 20 August 2018

 
4
Kerb weight 1520–1635 kg
Warranty 3 years
Servicing 15,000 miles

Full specifications

Driving

This generation M3 sees BMW reverting to a six-cylinder engine, rather than the 4.0-litre V8 of the previous M3. But to keep power up to the levels expected, the high-revving 3.0-litre unit is fitted with twin turbochargers which boost power up to 431PS. The turbo system itself is a brand new unit designed specifically for the M3 and it helps boost the all important torque figure significantly, up to 550Nm.

Where this really makes a difference is at higher speeds, so from 50mph to 70mph takes just 3.5 seconds and it's at this pace where the M3 feels more responsive than before. The torque is available from just 1850rpm while at the top of the rev range, this torque remains constant, so when you're changing gear at the red line, there's always the maximum power available.

Sadly the engine doesn't have the character of the old V8 and seems quite muted from behind the wheel. There's a nice rasp from the exhausts but again you don't really get to enjoy that from inside the car. It seems BMW has tried to give the M3 a similar sound to before but it can often sound odd and quite buzzy rather than thunderous.

That said, there's certainly no shortage of performance with a 0-62mph time of just 4.3 seconds with the standard six-speed manual gearbox. Opting for the twin clutch M DCT gearbox sees this time drop to 4.1 seconds and also includes a launch control function for blisteringly quick starts from a standstill. There are three different setting for the M DCT gearbox so you can choose between smoother shifts or quicker and more aggressive changes, the latter giving the M3 a really purposeful feel when driven fast.

Where the adoption of a smaller turbocharged engine really makes sense is fuel economy. The M3 now averages a claimed 32.1mpg (34.0mpg with the M DCT gearbox) compared to 23mpg. CO2 is also significantly reduced, down to 194g/km.

Adaptive M suspension comes as standard and has Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes so you can alter the stiffness depending on the road conditions. The M3 comes with a newly developed electromechanical steering set-up, the type which can often mean a loss of steering feel. Thankfully, the system in the BMW is perfectly set-up giving you good weight and decent feedback.

As with the suspension, you can also change the steering across the same three settings. Add this to the various engine modes plus the gearbox settings and things can get a little confusing. Luckily there are two M buttons on the steering wheel which you can individually configure so that you only have to press one button to put the M3 into its most sportiest mode.

At low speeds the M3 is amazingly sedate and easy to drive. Despite all the performance it's a car you could easily live with day to day. Much of that is down to the amazingly forgiving suspension which means impressive  ride quality and comfort. Not something you'd expect from an M3. Yet the suspension is still stiff enough to ensure there's minimal body roll through tight corners.

And it's on tight and demanding roads where the M3 really comes alive. You don't have to drive it as quick as the previous M3 to enjoy it, helped by the increase in torque, yet it's still sublime through corners with immense grip and perfect balance. As ever, the M3 is rear-wheel drive - BMW may produce four-wheel drive xDrive version of the 3 Series but the M3 will remain resolutely rear-wheel drive - yet out of slow corners there is superb traction thanks to the Active M Differential. 

It's an amazingly agile car helped by its light weight. Thanks to the use of a carbon fibre roof, previously reserved for the M3 Coupe, aluminium front wings and bonnet plus the use of carbon fibre in elements like the engine strut brace and driveshaft, the M3 weighs just 1497kg. To put that into context a C63 AMG tips the scales at 1730kg. It also means that this is the first M3 that has actually been lighter than its predecessor.

Engines

Engine MPG 0-62 Top speed CO2
3.0 31–32 mpg 4.2–4.3 s 155 mph 204 g/km
3.0 Competition Pack 32 mpg - 155 mph 204 g/km
3.0 Competition Pack DCT 34 mpg - 155 mph 194 g/km
3.0 CS 33 mpg 3.9 s 174 mph 198 g/km
3.0 DCT 34 mpg 4.0–4.1 s 155 mph 194 g/km
 

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